The saying goes “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince,” but in France you may only have to kiss one. Because as soon as you do you’re committed. Whether you know it or not…
Despite my best efforts, I’m a serial monogamist. It’s a harsh realization I had to make recently, when my latest proclamation to be single was abandoned for the umpteenth time. And don’t get me wrong… it’s not that I don’t LIKE being alone. In fact, as an only child, I relish in solitude more often than the average Joan. I just have an uncanny talent for finding really great guys.
In my defense, I am now living in what is thought to be one of the most romantic cities in the world surrounded by handsome French men with those notoriously dangerous accents, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that my plans for an extended period of living the single life would come to an abrupt halt. And as I’ve made it my personal mission to document the trials and tribulations of a person constantly traveling, both physically and through life in general, what better topic to touch on here than l’amour?
The story begins when shortly after arriving in Paris I heard a rumor about the way the French date: they don’t. For a lot of the world, it’s customary for people who are attracted to each other to participate in several activities together (typically called “dates”) over a period of time in an attempt to gauge the level of interest and compatibility of the potential couple. This concept of dating, I was told, just didn’t happen in France. The horror stories I heard described the terror of having no “trial” period for testing the waters before deciding to jump in, or of learning that one was in a relationship without having agreed to such an arrangement. What are the indecisive or hesitant people of the world living in France to do?!
And how, exactly, does anyone ever find their own Frog Prince (or Princess) when the Frogs don’t date?
Well, apparently, all you have to do is show up and pucker up. Show up to your life, to the party you were invited to, to the picnic some friends planned, to the cocktails your neighbor offered, to the dinner the girl on the metro suggested… Or in my case, show up to the post-work wine session after a stress-filled Friday. And if a person in the circle you have created bestows the gift of a kiss on you, congratulations: you’re in a relationship. Because the entire process of dating (gauging interest/compatibility/getting to know you) has already been done–even without going on a single official date. It’s fascinating that the culture that doesn’t date also doesn’t kiss casually (even if they DO engage casually in other, uh, activities). So, when in France–don’t underestimate the significance of a french kiss.
Now that I have my very own Froggie Prince I’ll surely have a lot to write about, what with navigating the waters of cultural differences in relationships, dating a co-worker, and trying to maintain a normal weight while being with someone who feeds me delicious food and wine nearly every day. It’s a very tough life.